Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

Omid, a memorial in defense of human rights in Iran
One Person’s Story

Abdolra'uf Rigi


Age: 36
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Islam (Sunni)
Civil Status: Married


Date of Killing: August 28, 2014
Location of Killing: Balochistan Province, Satellite Town, Quetta, Pakistan
Mode of Killing: Extrajudicial shooting
Age at time of alleged offense: 36

About this Case

Discrimination and the government’s security policies in Sistan and Baluchistan Province had blocked every opportunity for Abdorra’uf and his friends to engage in civil and political activities inside Iran.

Information regarding the extrajudicial killing of Mr. Abdolra’uf Rigi, son of Azad, was obtained from an interview conducted by the Abdorrahman Boroumand Center with a person close to him (September 10, 2021). The news was also published in the Islamic Republic of Iran media, including IRNA, the state-run news agency (IRNA News Agency, August 28, 2014). Additional information about Mr. Rigi’s case was obtained from the IRNA News Agency website (August 28, 2014); Fars News Agency (August 29, 2014); Mizan News Agency website (December 5, 2014); Persian Al-Arabiya website (May 20, August 28, and 31, 2014); Edalat News weblog (August 28, 2014); Nasr News Network (Last updated: October 7, 2015); Fars News Agency (November 2, 2013); Amnesty International (September 17, 2007); Radio Zamaneh (August 31, 2014); Islamic Development Organization website (July 4, 2018); Bulletin News (September 1, 2014); Persian Al-Arabiya website (August 28, and 31, 2014, May 19, 2020); Persian BBC (September 20, 2008); Al-Monitor (2017); Minority Rights Group International Report (2018); and Human Rights Watch Report (1997).

Mr. Abdolra’uf Rigi was born in 1980-81 in a Sunni Moslem Baluch family in the city of Zahedan. He had a seminary education, and in Iran’s tradition of Sunni Islam, held the position of a “Mowlavi”, and was a teacher. Mr. Rigi spent his childhood years in various towns in Iran’s Sistan and Baluchistan Province. (Boroumand Center interview, September 10, 2021).

In 2001-02, a young member of the family by the name of Abdolaziz was shot and killed by the military and the Zahedan then-Chief of Criminal Investigations. The family’s follow ups of the case proved futile, which left a profound impact on them, especially on the younger brother, Abdolmalek, leading to the latter engaging in armed uprising inside Iran, and later through the Jondollah group. (Boroumand Center interview, September 10, 2021).

According to a person close to Abdolra’uf , when Abdolmalek left Iran, several of the family members were summoned and threatened by the Information Administration to cooperate with the authorities against Abdolmalek Rigi, [and were told that] they otherwise would be charged and convicted as criminals. Some family members had even been threatened with “assassination”. (Boroumand Center interview, September 10, 2021).

According to a person close to him, Mr. Abdolra’uf Rigi left Iran and took up residence in Pakistan 2004-05, due to pressure and threats to cooperate [with Iranian authorities] against his brother Abdolmalek Rigi. He had not had any political activities against the Islamic Republic until then. According to this same source, “when he went to Pakistan, however, he worked [with Jondollah] in a political capacity, and [did not partake in its] armed activities, and was the group’s spokesman.” (Boroumand Center interview, September 10, 2021).

After Abdolmalek Rigi’s kidnapping and execution in 2010, several of Abdolmalek’s comrades formed the Jeish-al-Adl group in 2012-13. After a while, and following internal discord, Mr. Abdolra’uf Rigi and several others formed the Jeish-al-Nasr group in 2013-14.

Mr. Rigi has been described by people close to him as “a warm and serious” individual. He liked sports especially mountain climbing. According to a person close to him, “Mr. Rigi helped around the house with household chores such as cooking”. Abdolmalek Rigi’s execution affected him mentally for a while, “but then he returned to normal until the day he was assassinated”. (Boroumand Center interview, September 10, 2021).

The Situation of Iran’s Baluch Population

Baluch ethnics make up one to three percent of the country’s population and the majority in Sistan and Baluchistan, where 64-77 percent of residents live below the poverty line. Despite having abundant gas, oil, gold, and marine resources, approximately two thirds of residents lack access to clean drinking water. Economic policies have allowed caused Sistan and Baluchistan Province to remain one of the most deprived provinces in terms of education, health, and food. (Boroumand Center research).

Iran's Baluch minority are mostly Sunni Muslims, whereas the majority of Iran’s population are Shi'a Muslims. Policies and actions from authorities have been restrictive toward the practice of Sunni Islam, e.g. limiting and even blocking the construction of Sunni mosques in majority-Sh’ia areas (including Tehran), arbitrary closure of Sunni prayer halls and celebratory gatherings, and violence from security forces towards groups of Sunnis praying in public (Minority Rights Group; Human Rights Watch: Religious Minorities; Al-Monitor).

Baluch activists have reported that government repression of Sunni Baluch groups had increased since February 1994, when locals gathered at Zahedan, the capital of Sistan-Baluchistan, to protest the destruction of a Sunni mosque in Mashhad. Government agents reportedly fired shots into the crowd and detained several activists. Over the years, several religious and political personalities inside and outside the country have been killed, including four Sunni clerics, who died under suspicious circumstances between 1993 and 1995-96. (Boroumand Center and United Nations research; Baluch Campaign article, February 14, 2016). Some Baluch opponents consider the emergence of armed opposition groups to be the result of the central government’s policies, including the repression of religious as well as peaceful civil activities (1), and being denied access to jobs. (Boroumand Center research; Minority Rights Group).

Jeish-al-Nasr, Jeish-al-Adl, Jondollah

The Jeish al-Nasr group was a group that had split from a similar group called Jeish al-Adl, which itself, had replaced a group called Jondollah, an armed ethnic-religious group opposed to the Islamic Republic.  Jondollah, which had identified itself as the defender of Iran’s Baluch population’s religious and ethnic rights, had engaged in several skirmishes with the Islamic Republic military and law enforcement forces, each time resulting in a number of casualties on both sides. In the course of these conflicts and in order to secure the release of Jondollah Prisoners, the group even took border patrol forces hostage.

After the kidnapping of Abdolmalek Rigi (Abdolmajid Rigi), leader of Jondollah, in 2009, and his execution on June 20, 2010, several of Abdolmalek’s comrades (including his brother, Abdolra’uf Rigi) formed the Jeish al-Adl group in 2012-13. Jeish al-Adl declared itself the ideological heir to Jondollah, “an Islamic movement loyal and obligated to Islamic values”, with defending Iran’s adherents of Sunni Islam and the downfall of the Islamic Republic as two of its stated goals. (2)

After taking five Iranian border patrol personnel hostage in February 2014, and executing one of the patrolmen (3), internal discord in Jeish al-Adl increased and ultimately, in May 2014, a majority of the group’s political section split from its military branch, and another group called the Jeish-al-Nasr was established under the leadership of Abdolra’uf Rigi, who was opposed to the execution of the border patrol officer and the decision-making process in the Jeish al-Adl group. (4)

According to an Al Arabiya website report, simultaneous with declaring its formation on a Facebook page, the group issued an announcement in which it stated: “Jeish al-Nasr is an Islamic movement that believes and is bound by Islamic values, including Jihad or armed conflict against the Islamic Republic regime, and considers itself duty-bound to safeguard Islamic values in its resistance, and emphasizes temperance, moderation, and Ummah Wassat (literally meaning “the people in the middle”, it is interpreted by jurist as meaning “a force for moderation and good”).” In an interview with al-Arabiya, Mr. Rigi explained that Jeish al-Nasr’s plan, which leaned toward decentralization and consultative (advisory board-based) management, was to take aim at the “foundation and leadership” of the Islamic Republic, but that it would refrain from committing acts which would incur the public’s hatred, and would respect human rights norms. Abdolra’uf Rigi further explained that Jeish al-Nasr wanted autonomy for the Baluchistan region and the establishment of a confederation in which the Baluch people would be in charge of their own destiny. He also brought up the attainment of the rights of Iran’s adherents of the Sunni faith as a part of the group’s demands. According to the leader of Jeish al-Nasr, the group seeks “the overthrow of the Rule and Guardianship of the High Scholar regime”, because “they are not followers of Ali” and “are the enemies of the entire people of Iran” from his perspective, and because there is no hope of the Islamic Republic fulfilling the Baluch people’s demands. He did not completely rule out, nonetheless, the possibility of dialogue with the government in order to attain the rights of the Baluch people. (Persian Al-Arabiya, May 20, 2014).

Two years after Mr. Rigi’s murder in November 2016, the Jeish al-Adl group announced that Jeish al-Nasr had merged with the group. (Boroumand Center interview; Persian Al-Arabiya, May 20, 2014).

Threats against Mr. Rigi’s life, and his death

On Thursday, August 28, 2014, Mr. Abdolra’uf Rigi was shot and killed by unidentified individuals in Quetta, Pakistan’s Satellite Town District. (Boroumand Center interview, September 10, 2021). News of his assassination was published that same day by Iranian state news agencies such as IRNA. IRNA had announced Mr. Rigi's location of death in Dalbandin city of Baluchistan Province in Pakistan. (IRNA, August 28, 2014)

Mr. Rigi had been threatened with death by the security apparatus prior to leaving Iran in 2004. Furthermore, in the course of interrogating members of the Rigi family, the Information Administration agents had stated: “We will assassinate the entire Rigi family.” They had even said that they would kill them so that no one would ever dare stand up to and challenge the government. This was customary; they had told all family members that they had to cooperate or they would be considered co-conspirators. (Boroumand Center interview, September 10, 2021).

In the course of Mr. Rigi’s assassination, Abu Bakr Rigi, his nephew, was also wounded. Abdolra’uf Rigi’s body was buried in the town of Quetta. (Boroumand Center interview, September 10, 2021).

Iranian Officials’ reaction

News of Mr. Abdolra’uf Rigi’s killing received extensive coverage in Iran’s official and unofficial media. Alluding to internal conflicts within the Jeish al-Adl group, these media attributed the murder to said group. (Fars News Agency, August 29, 2014).

On December 5, 2104, Mahmud Alavi, Iran’s former Minister of Information, reacted to Mr. Rigi’s killing by stating that he and Abdolra’uf “had been subjected to Divine Punishment”.

According to available information, Iranian officials did not directly react after Mr. Rigi’s death. A few months later, however, Mahmud Alavi, Iran’s former Minister of Information, confirmed the Iranian regime’s responsibility in the murder of the government’s opponents outside Iran, including Abdolra’uf Rigi’s killing in Pakistan. According to the former Minister of Information, Abdolra’uf Rigi and a number of other Baluch activists “had been subjected to Divine Punishment” (5).  He stated: “A few months ago, Abdolra’uf Rigi, a Jeish al-Adl military operative, and his nephew were subjected to ‘Divine punishment’. A person named Sheikh Nadim and his brother, who had killed 15 Pakistani Shiites and two Iranian engineers who had constructed a bridge in the city of Karachi, were also subjected to Divine Punishment … A person by the name of Mohammad Bozorgzadeh, who had martyred 15 Iranian law enforcement officers in 2008 and 2009, and had fled to Tanzania, and because of his favorable financial situation in that country, provided monetary assistance to the Jeish al-Adl group, was also subjected to Divine Punishment.” Mizan News Agency, December 5, 2014).

Jeish al-Nasr’s Reaction

On August 31, 2014, the Jeish al-Nasr group issued a communique in which it reported the arrest and punishment of a “duped operative” and member of Iran’s Ministry of Information by the name of Ebrahim Mehrnahad who had had confessed to participation in Mr. Rigi’s assassination. The aforementioned individual [Ebrahim Mehrnahad] was the brother of a Baluch civil activist, Ya’qub Mehrnahad (1), and had been detained several times since his adolescence for his efforts to prevent the execution of his brother, Ya’qub Mehrnahad, and had spent several years in prison. (Persian Al-Arabiya, August 31, 2014, BBC Persian, September 21, 2008). Some state-run websites had referred to Mr. Mehrnahad as the Jeish al-Nasr Group’s person in charge of political affairs, who had excellent relations with Abdolra’uf Rigi. (Bulletin News, September 1, 2014).

At the time of Jeish al-Nasr’s formation, Mr. Abdolra’uf Rigi had emphasized the two groups’ brotherhood and mutual respect for one another, and explained that he had changed the name of his group in order to avoid conflict and enmity. (Al Arabiya website, May 20, 2014).

In its initial reaction, Jeish al-Adl presented its condolences “to the great Emir’s family, the people of Baluchistan, and the dear adherents of the Sunni faith, for Abdolra’uf Rigi’s martyrdom”. Mr. Mohammad Sa’eed Torkamanzehi, Jeish al-Adl’s spokesperson, noted that Iran’s state-run media knew of Mr. Rigi’s murder before Jeish al-Adl did, and had announced the news thereof, and stated that he was certain of the Iranian regime’s responsibility for Mr. Rigi’s assassination and added that one of the reasons for targeting the leader of Jeish al-Nasr was [to thwart] the discussions between the two groups of Jeish al-Adl and Jeish al-Nasr geared toward renewed unification. (Radio Zamaneh Tribune, August 31, 2014).

Family’s Reaction

Mr. Rigi’s family did not specifically pursue the murder case in Iran. Most of their previous follow-ups with regard to the cases of Mr. Rigi’s other brothers had not yielded any results. (Boroumand Center interview, September 10, 2021).

After Mr. Rigi’s assassination, the Ministry of Information repeatedly summoned and threatened the male members of the family. Following the execution or murder of all male members, however, the women of the Rigi family were also summoned and told that “if their children followed in their fathers’ path, they would be killed as well”. The Information [Administration] would either summon the female members of the Rigi family to places such as the “Information Headquarters” or would interrogate them at their own homes with prior coordination with the “Clan elders”. (Boroumand Center interview, September 10, 2021).


(1) In the years subsequent to June 1997, many Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s) began activities across Iran, including in marginalized regions such as Khuzestan, Sistan and Baluchistan, and Kurdistan Provinces. Many newspapers were published in that period, and native language classes began operating outside schools. It was not long, however, before newspapers were banned and NGO’s shut down. It was under these circumstances that a number of groups came into existence in Sistan and Baluchistan, with armed action as their agenda. The possibility for civil activities in Sistan and Baluchistan is limited, and any civil action is repressed and severely dealt with by the government.
(2) The Jeish al-Adl group has been led by an individual named Abdorrahim Mollazadeh (alias Salahuddin Faruqi) since its formation in 2012-13. He was born in Rusk County in the south of Sistan and Baluchistan Province.
(3) On March 24, 2014, the group reported the execution of First Sergeant and Border Patrolman, Jamsid Danaifar, after 36 days in captivity. Jeish al-Adl stated that the execution of the Sergeant was in response to the execution of Ali Naru’i (a brother of a member of the group).
(4) In an interview regarding these disagreements, Abdolra’uf Rigi stated: “I will say regarding methodology, that I believed in the division of labor, formation of various sections and division of responsibility, decentralization, respect for the council, and expanding the activities of the various sections, which was opposed to by some people. A month ago, we held a meeting in order to solve the problem, and a council was assembled, but the council’s decisions were not implemented and we ultimately decided to separate.” (Persian Al Arabiya, August 28, 2014).
(5) The Islamic Republic’s security apparatus, especially the Ministry of Information, also calls its secret agents “the unknown soldiers of the Imam of Time (the Twelfth Shi’a Imam who is said to have vanished only to re-appear at an unknown date as humanity’s savior)”, and at times uses the term “Divine Punishment” to describe actions taken by the “unknown soldiers”.

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